Less than three weeks after Hot Springs residents were on a seven-day “boil water” advisory, aldermen explored grant possibilities for infrastructure improvements. The discussion came inside Hot Springs Town Hall Sept. 5 during the town’s monthly meeting.
Karen Kiehna, the former Marshall town administrator now with McGill & Associates, talked with town leaders about grants for an inventory of municipal sewer and water assets. Called an “asset inventory assessment,” the process would help determine the overall condition of the system and provide the groundwork for a capital improvement plan. Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Division of Water Infrastructure with the state’s Department of Environmental Quality could cover all of the $90,000 cost of the inventory assessment, Kiehna said.
“If we don’t do this now and start planning for the next 10, 15, 20 years, who knows what our infrastructure will look like,” Mayor Sidney Harrison said in support of a motion to move forward with grant applications to the two funding sources. “It needs to be studied. These are capital improvements that need to be addressed, then we can check and see about funding sources to go after those needs.”
Aldermen all voted in favor of a motion to authorize Harrison to sign the grant documents.
Following recent break-ins and reports of drug activity in Hot Springs, town officials reviewed proposals from Edward Equipment Security for video camera installations. Brad Edwards, the head of the three-generation family-owned company, shared plans to set up devices on the town hall building and Bill Whitten Community Center that would track “comings and goings.”
Alderman Jimmy Moore asked if initial proposals that quoted prices at about $7,600 would allow the town to “add on later.”
Edwards then launched into a breakdown of the differences between entry-level and higher-level systems. “The machines require a lot of throughput,” he said, adding that basic systems do not allow for much expansion should the town want to add cameras at different locations down the line.
Aldermen ultimately passed a motion asking Edwards for another proposal that would allow for the possibility of future security camera expansion.
Following the meeting, Hot Springs Police Department Chief David Shelton said he believes the addition of security cameras would deter criminal activity in town. He added that footage would also be helpful in investigations, enabling law enforcement to place suspects and suspect vehicles around alleged crimes.
News and notes
The $215,000 loan from the USDA that would clear the way for the town’s purchase of an unused U.S. Forest Service remains in limbo more than one year after the 40-year financing plan was discussed during a public meeting. “You can’t rush the federal government,” Harrison said of the situation.
Julie Hochwender, owner of Creek Ridge Camping, followed up with the town regarding her hopes to lease the town’s old jail on Andrews Street. She first presented the idea in August of opening a coffee shop in the small space, one that would also serve as a museum to allow tourists to learn more about the town. “I’ll share a business plan when I get it,” she said.
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